Archive for the ‘National news’ Category

Money-losing Postal Service to lose a little less money

The good news: The U.S. Postal Service proposes to take a solid step to address its annual shortfall by eliminating most mail delivery on Saturdays, saving an estimated $2 billion per year.

The bad news: That deficit isn’t $2 billion a year. It’s $16 billion a year.

There are skeptics that even the move to reduce Saturday deliveries (you’ll still see your postman at your mailbox on Saturdays if you’re expecting certain things, such as express mail and mail-order medications) will be all that effective. As Ed Morrissey notes at Hot Air, it depends in part on whether delivery trucks have the spare capacity on Mondays to handle the additional mail, or whether more drivers will require more trips back to the post office to complete their rounds.

And, as former U.S. comptroller general David Walker tells CBS News, the USPS still must “look at more fundamental changes in its infrastructure, its compensation costs, its retirement obligations, and also what it does and who does its …

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Will national Republicans try to shape Georgia’s Senate race?

As possible candidates to replace Saxby Chambliss in the U.S. Senate continue to sidle up to the proverbial ring with their proverbial hats aimed at it, take a few minutes to read this story from the New York Times about how national GOP figures are trying to get more involved in recruiting and promoting candidates in Senate races across the country. Here’s the gist of it:

The biggest donors in the Republican Party are financing a new group to recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party’s efforts to win control of the Senate. …

The Conservative Victory Project, which is backed by Karl Rove and his allies who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races to try to weed out candidates who are seen as too flawed to win …

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What Phil Mickelson has in common with low-income Americans

Professional golfer Phil Mickelson has been in the news lately for complaining — and then apologizing about complaining — about the marginal tax rate he faces under new tax laws at both the federal level and in his home state of California. He claimed he now pays more than 60 percent of his income in taxes.

Presumably, he apologized because now is not the most popular point in U.S. history for questioning the wisdom of the government for taxing sharply the income of Americans who earn tens of millions of dollars a year. And as someone who earns a goodly chunk of his millions precisely because of his popularity (think endorsements), Mickelson has to consider such things.

So perhaps readers will be more interested to know that Mickelson has nothing on low-income Americans when it comes to watching his take-home earnings dissipate with each additional dollar. But not only because of tax rates.

Based on data released earlier last fall by the Congressional Budget Office, the

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Clinton: Here’s how you ‘patronize’ gun owners without being patronizing

This is just Bubba being Bubba, in a way no other politician today can quite manage. From Politico:

Former President Bill Clinton warned a group of top Democratic donors at a private Saturday meeting not to underestimate the passions that gun control stirs among many Americans.

“Do not patronize the passionate supporters of your opponents by looking down your nose at them,” Clinton said.

“A lot of these people live in a world very different from the world lived in by the people proposing these things,” Clinton said. “I know because I come from this world.”

So far, so good. Sound political advice, and seemingly genuine toward both the donors he’s advising and the people he’s advising them not to patronize. Toward the end of the story, however, we get this:

“A lot of these people … all they’ve got is their hunting and their fishing,” [Clinton] told the Democratic financiers. “Or they’re living in a place where they don’t have much police presence. Or they’ve been listening to …

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Louie Giglio and ‘the right to hold differing views’

I’ve never been to Louie Giglio’s church. But I drive past it every Sunday on the way to the church I do attend.

Passion City Church meets in a building that once was home to a Home Depot Expo and a PGA Tour Superstore. If you aren’t familiar with the site, one thing you ought to know is it has the kind of enormous parking lot you’d expect for a mega-box store and that it’s filled to capacity each week as volunteers and traffic cops direct the flow of motorists, pedestrians from the nearby Lindbergh MARTA station, and the shuttles that ferry still more worshippers to Giglio’s church.

You also ought to know that, for a couple of months last year, there were fewer parking spaces available than usual. That’s because part of the pavement was occupied by a gigantic statue of an arm and hand reaching skyward — I’m talking about 103-feet-tall gigantic — with, among other messages, “Indifference Is Not an Option” written on it.

“Indifference” to human trafficking and slavery, that …

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Another Southern state not named Georgia looks to ditch the income tax

Another day, another Republican governor making a bold proposal on an issue Georgia lawmakers have been wrestling with. From the Times-Picayune in New Orleans:

Gov. Bobby Jindal is proposing to eliminate Louisiana’s income and corporate taxes and pay for those cuts with increased sales taxes, the governor’s office confirmed Thursday. The governor’s office has not yet provided the details of the plan.

“The bottom line is that for too long, Louisiana’s workers and small businesses have suffered from having a state tax structure that is too complex and that holds back economic prosperity,” Jindal said in a statement released by his office. “It’s time to change that so people can keep more of their own money and foster an environment where businesses want to invest and create good-paying jobs.”

Jindal said the plan would be revenue-neutral and that the goal would be to keep sales taxes “as low and flat as possible.”

Another Louisiana newspaper, the Monroe News-Star, reports the …

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Transportation funding: Should Georgia follow another GOP governor’s lead?

After last year’s resounding T-SPLOST flop, Georgia legislators are not expected to make any big moves regarding new transportation funding. But forget new transportation funding: Given the long-term decline in the purchasing power of the motor fuel tax, which will only accelerate as vehicles become more fuel-efficient, Georgia will have to consider alternate means of funding for building and maintaining roads and bridges. Increasing the motor fuel tax rate even just to maintain parity might work in the short term, but it’s probably not a solution in the long run.

Few of the most-discussed alternatives have obvious appeal. Tolls almost certainly will become a more important source of revenue, particularly on the interstates, but that’s a limited option. You’re extremely unlikely to face a toll booth between your house and the grocery store, and there are vast swaths of the state where tolls probably aren’t viable. Another option, tracking the number of miles traveled by a …

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An obvious point rarely made about income inequality

We’ve heard a lot over the past four years about income inequality. The unequal distribution of wealth, and efforts to redistribute it more “fairly,” arguably have been the chief animating concerns of the Obama presidency, from tax laws to social-welfare policies.

With that in mind, I recommend the latest post by economist and blogger Mark J. Perry, who simply compiled census data to show what we know about the characteristics of U.S. household income. There’s a complete chart and fuller discussion of the data in his post, some of which echoes points I’ve made in the past about the correlation between marriage rates and poverty. I recommend reading the whole thing.

But in this space I want to touch on two other points he makes that ought to be blindingly intuitive, but aren’t always mentioned amid the heated rhetoric:

On average, there are significantly more income earners per household in the top income quintile households (2.03) than earners per household in the …

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About the hold-up in the Sandy relief bill/pork-fest

Liberals’ new favorite Republican is Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor who this week slammed House Republicans for delaying action on a bill with aid for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. (They’ll be back to hating him the next time he goes on an anti-union rant or some such.) As I’ve said before, the real problem lies with those who lard up such bills with extra spending because they know those pet projects have a better chance of passing when attached to such an urgent measure.

Apparently that can be clear even to a politician in the storm-ravaged area, as long as that politician is not a moderate Republican running for re-election in a blue state. From Politicker.com:

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously declined to slam House Speaker John Boehner over Congress’ stalled Hurricane Sandy aid, took his argument to the next level this morning and suggested federal lawmakers are partially to blame for the delay in the vote on the package because they insert “things …

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Why the same old gun-control answers aren’t comforting

As the father of two small boys, I’m as haunted by last week’s massacre in Newtown, Conn., as anyone who didn’t know personally the victims or their killer.

I have the same fears as all parents anticipating the long, potentially treacherous path ahead of their children in this broken world of ours. My fears are only multiplied by my doubts there are many real options for thwarting future slayings in other unsuspecting towns.

The two primary questions we ask after mass killings are: Why do some people act so heinously? And how can we keep others from doing so?

The first question invariably draws answers like: madness, isolation, social awkwardness or marginalization, familial dysfunction, a craving for fame (or infamy), the prevalence of violence in our popular culture, and evil pure and simple.

The second question typically brings suggestions for treating these mental illnesses and social failures. That, and gun control.

Guns typically don’t make the list of answers to “why,” …

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